A former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has sued President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, for N2.5bn over her alleged libelous tweet of May 7, 2019.
Onochie had in the post allegedly stated that Atiku was on the watch list of security operatives in the United Arab Emirates and had travelled to shop for terrorists in the Middle East.
Atiku, through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), filed the suit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on June 26.
Recall that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the February 23, 2019 poll had in a May 14, 2019 letter, demanded an apology, retraction and payment of N500 compensation from Onochie or face a lawsuit, for the damage allegedly caused him by her social media post.
Noting that Onochie was unmoved by his demand, Atiku, in his statement of claim accompanying his suit, stated that rather than show “remorse by retracting her earlier publication”, she further, on May 20, made “another derogatory publication and also published same globally online in the social and other print media” against his person.
“To say that the claimant is shopping for terrorists knowing same to be untrue and without any foundation is not only dishonest and reckless, but is calculated and politically designed to instigate security agents against him not only in the UAE, but across the world,” he added.
Mr. Atiku said the tweet was “politically orchestrated” “solely to cause maximum damage” to his “high reputation” while challenging “the purported victory” of Onochie’s boss, President Buhari in the last presidential election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
He said “the defamatory publication” was also published by several newspapers nationwide and on several social media news, described it as “a figment of the imagination of the defendant.”
However, the plaintiff pointed out that it nevertheless portrayed him “as an evil man, mentor of terrorists, someone who has links with terrorists, and a person who is interested in destabilizing the peace and unity of Nigeria”.
He added, “The publication also portrayed the claimant as a security threat and terrorist to right thinking members of the public and the society at large.
“The odious publication has clearly rubbished the claimant’s image and reputation. It has caused him national and international backlash and embarrassment and has done incalculable damage to him.”
Mrs Onochie has not responded to the suit as at the time of filing this report.